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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 45384
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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Hi When I was offered employment 4/3/14 the deal was salary

Resolved Question:

Hi
When I was offered employment 4/3/14 the 'deal' was salary + accommodation, bills paid for except variables + car. Immediately after interview I viewed property and reported to potential employer that it was unsuitable for various reasons ... these were accepted and an offer to purchase an alternative property was given. I was given 3 weeks to cease employment with previous company and relocate at my own expense. During that time the employer sent Agents details of properties he considered suitable, circa £200K within close proximity of his address (a condition of the employment).

Having spent 4 months waiting for the exchange and completion of a property (last week he became the owner) and due to the urgency I asked him for clarification as to which bills he would be responsible for he suddenly announced I was responsible for all bills which had never been mentioned before let alone discussed.

As a personal assistant/carer there are strict criteria I'm to abide by. So the initial 'deal'
seemed fair. However he has moved the goal posts and I want to be clear about his legal obligation.... if there is any? I am not expected to pay rent.

I look forward to hearing from you

Kind regards

Anna
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.

Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is ***** ***** it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. Was a written contract ever issued?

Customer:

eventually, and it says my average hours should not exceed 48hrs/wk on average I'm working 60 +. Re housing it states:

Customer:

"you will be required to live in accommodation which shall be provided for you near to the home of you employer. You will be required to sign a separate Service Occupancy Agreement which will be issued by your employer. It is a condition of this role that you agree to live in the provided accommodation"

Customer:

This 'contract has never been discussed or signed

Customer:

are you there Ben?

Ben Jones :

yes sorry got called away, so the only mention in relation to bills was the discussion you had with the employer before the offer was given, or as part of the offer?

Customer:

it was part of the offer .. sorry hadn't realised you were waiting

Customer:

and hasn't been mentioned again until 2 days ago when I approached the question. I need services and utilities as I actually startliving there upon my return from holiday 6/7/. However I can't get accounts without a Tenancy Agreement which of course I'm not a tenant

Customer:

...or rent paying anyway ;-)

Customer:

and no SOA has been issued

Customer:

Oh and I still don't have a car

Ben Jones :

ok so is the issue mainly that you were promised the bills would be covered but that it has not materialised or that you cannot get the services/utilities? Just trying to work out if this is employment law or property law

Customer:

1 My real concern is he's reneging on his initial agreement.

Customer:

secondary is I can't apply for the accounts in any event because I don't have therelevant paperwork

Ben Jones :

so the contract which was eventually issued states nothing about bills?

Customer:

no nothing

Customer:

and we're taking about the employment contract

Customer:

not the SOA which i have not yet received

Ben Jones :

ok thanks let me get my response ready please

Customer:

okydoky

Ben Jones :

When you were offered the job, any terms that were promised r agreed at the time would also be legally binding, unless it was subsequently agreed between both of you that they would be amended. Therefore, if you were offered the job on the promise that the bills would be included and you took up the post based on this promise, you may certainly now argue that this was a contractual term that should be honoured. If the employer has reneged on that promise and is now refusing to honour their contractual commitments, you could accuse them of acting in breach of contract.


 


The main issue is going to be with your length of service. Until you have at least 2 years’ service with the employer you are not protected against unfair dismissal, which means that you can be dismissed for more or less any reason as long as it is not linked to discrimination, such as your age, gender, race, etc. So even if they promised to pay the bills, they could have employed you and then at any point in the first 2 years they could have terminated your employment simply b paying you any contractual notice period you were entitled to, or by giving you a week’s notice after the first month of you working for them.


 


That does mean they could refuse to pay the bills and dismiss you as a result, which would all be legal. In these circumstances whilst you can pursue them for breach of contract, any losses you can claim will only be limited to the actual losses you have incurred as a result of their breach, such as you having to pay the bills for the time you were employed there. You cannot claim for what could have happened or to seek compensation for loss of earnings going beyond the notice period you were due.


 


Therefore, it is best to try and negotiate with them, in a friendly manner if at all possible, so that you do not jeopardise your employment with them. You can certainly refer to the initial promises made and stipulate that they forced part of the contract you have with them and that they are expected to honour them. But just remember that pushing them too hard over this could prompt them to terminate your employment, without you having rights to challenge it any further, apart from the losses incurred from their breach, such as covering bills you had to pay whilst living there, or the non-payment of any notice period you were due.

Customer:

Hmmm ok ~ thanks I think I have the upper hand as I have the option to give him my notice and walk away. He's then left with an empty house and few resources to sort the practicalities.... however I have a meeting with him tomorrow to discuss.

Ben Jones :

you are free to walk away at any point yourself by giving him the notice under contract, you could even leave without notice if you can argue that you have been constructively dismissed, which is when the employer has committed a serious breach of contract first

Customer:

. and would this be considered a 'serious breach of contract' on his part?

Ben Jones :

I would say so, it affects your pay after all, you are now being lumopbered with additional costs that you had not planned for at the outset

Customer:

Ok many thanks. Just to be crystal clear.... do I understand correctly that this has no legal weight? And if push came to shove what can I do to safe guard myself?

Ben Jones :

Which bit - the leaving without notice?

Customer:

let's go with that

Ben Jones :

that is very much a legal right you have, if you had 2 years service you could even make a claim against the employer for being forced to leave but as you do not you can just use it as a reason not to give notice

Customer:

I was also thinking about any actions he might take as a consequence...

Ben Jones :

Do you actually have a contractual notice period you must give to leave?

Customer:

it states two months on either side but I'm not sure that's legal I thought it was a week with under 2 yrs service? However is there an optout clause?

Ben Jones :

It can be anything which you and the employer agree, it is only a week if there is nothing in the contract so you can be bound by that. If you leave with no notice the worst he can do is sue you for breach of contract and pursue you for losses incurred as a result of your breach, such as having to pay someone else at short notice to replace you...but all of that is subject to him not being in breach in the first place

Customer:

ah ok I see. Ok Thanks

Ben Jones :

you are welcome

Customer:

are we done now?

Ben Jones :

well it's down to you, if it has answered your query then I suppose we are

Customer:

Yep I guess so. Thanks ;-)

Ben Jones :

you are most welcome, all the best

Customer:

Thanks

Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 45384
Experience: Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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